Recycling and Waste Management in Modern Societies – Trends, Challenges, and Solutions

An expanding population also increases the waste volumes generated globally. Many factors have led to a growing global population: easy access to viable medical services and modern treatments that prologue the life, most importantly. More than this, pollution and waste volumes have increased as a modern lifestyle side-effect. But, in this context, are there any strategies that may help with these matters? Could our societies start recycling more and implement better recycling strategies? Especially in the context in which our cities generate each year more than 1 billion of solid waste. This could become a severe issue in the future if realistic steps aren’t implemented. By 2025, this volume is expected to double. So, which are the trends, challenges and solutions to these environmental matters? Below are some answers.

Waste management disposal methods

There are available several methods of waste collection, treatment and disposal, and modern solutions seem to be more viable than others that were used in the past. Technological advancements helped in regards to compressing this waste into smaller volumes, treating it more efficiently, recycling as much as possible and disposing of what cannot be recycled in more efficient ways.

Waste Management and Disposal Methods:

  • Thermal Waste Disposal Methods: these methods include incineration, open burning and gasification; while being effective in terms of disposing of the waste, these increase the carbon dioxide footprint on the environment. In most of the cases, these methods are only recommended for that type of waste that cannot be recycled or disposed of in other more effective ways.
  • Dumps and Landfills: sanitary landfills, controlled dumps and bioreactor landfills are some modern methods to dispose of waste. However, only some of these methods are effective and answer to more environmental needs. For instance, bioreactor landfills use cutting-edge microbial processes that contribute to a faster degradation of the waste. On the other hand, the other two methods are far more frequently used and they oftentimes contribute to high levels of soil and water pollution.
  • Biological methods: composting is one of the most popular biological waste disposal methods. It offers plenty of advantages, while the footprint left on the environment is a negligible one. Anaerobic digestion is another biological method. By also using biological processes to eliminate waste, it can prove itself quite of an effective method.

However, in many cases, waste collection and transportation seem to be another two challenges the modern society has to find solutions to.

Waste collection and transportation across modern societies

While some solutions have been found when it comes to waste disposal methods and practices, our society still struggles to find viable collection and transportation methods. Regardless, some visionary companies that activate in the sector found some unexpected solutions.

Collection and transport of waste in modern societies is nowadays managed through some impressive methods: underground collection systems, compactors and compact garbage trucks, waste bin monitoring technologies and high-tech geographic and web-based data gathering technologies.

While not all technologies presented above are equally effective, it has been proven that compactors and balers could motivate companies in the manufacturing industry to recycle more. You can learn more about this technology if you visit the site. The future of waste collection and transportation seems a brighter one today than ever before.

Waste segregation and sorting methods today

With technological advancements today, the segregation and sorting methods used currently have evolved from manual separation in multi-compartmented bins to optical sorting technologies. Today, we can even discuss mechanical biological treatment (MBT) methods.

But the challenge is not the process itself, but convincing people in developing societies to start sorting their waste. At least in Europe, the rates are concerning for many of the member states. While in the Scandinavian states almost 750 kilos of waste was separated and recycled per capita, in countries such as Romania only 214 kilos of waste per capita were separated and recycled.

Integrated Solid Waste Management

Integrated Solid Waste Management methods seem to be more effective because these mainly aim to reduce, recycle, reuse and manage waste. The hierarchy is important because by following it, a better health and environment can be obtained. In New Zealand, the Waste Management Strategy was published in 2002. The main approach was an integrated solid waste management, on solid waste. The strategy has certain directives in regards to liquid, gaseous and hazardous waste as well. The main objectives of the strategy were the following:

  • Lowering the social costs that result from improper waste management methods;
  • Diminishing the footprint on the environment;
  • Boosting the economic and social benefits of a better approach to waste.

In New Zealand, the implementation of this waste management strategy has proven to be beneficial and effective, especially since many players in the private sector have taken their waste management and recycling duties seriously. Challenges seem to be solved by local actions groups and institutions through a stricter implementation program, but also laws and regulations.

Social actions that could reduce waste

Society plays a big role in contributing to the matter. In most of the cases, while central governments create the legislative environment and infrastructure for such strategies and offer increasing amounts of money to reduce pollution and improper waste disposal (the World Bank, for instance), citizens have to also be educated and familiarised with the matter.

A better approach to recycling and waste disposal can be obtained through citizen engagement and social inclusion.

Through citizen engagement is followed a profound citizen behaviour change and participation in environmental matters that are debated at a local government level. Through social inclusion, even those disadvantaged social groups should have easy access to recycling facilities, sorting and segregation methods and should be educated in environmental matters.

These are only some of the ways in which the modern society can tackle the environmental issues that emerge in the globalization and industrialization context. With an array of new methods and strategies but also with increasing levels of social involvement, the goals set at a global level could be easily attained.

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